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Social impact

Supporting the communities in which we live and work


We are an international law firm, but we are firmly rooted in and connected to the local communities in which we live and work. As part of our Social Impact efforts, we are committed to:

Improving social mobility and inclusion

We want to attract and retain top talent and believe that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their maximum potential, regardless of personal circumstances.

It is from this basis that our many social mobility programmes aim to provide an opportunity to see the possibilities, to motivate and to provide the skills and experiences for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Our programmes are not exclusively for legal roles but also for roles in professional services more generally.

We are recognised as a business leader across sectors for our work in social mobility and inclusion, including being ranked 3rd in the UK Social Mobility Employer Index.

Some of our key social mobility programmes and initiatives include our Networked Scholarship Scheme, literacy programmes and language liaison scheme, being a founding member of PRIME in the UK and supporting the Centre 360 programme in Australia.

Leading for change in Indigenous reconciliation

We are committed to advancing a culture of partnership and reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. In 2011, we launched our first of four Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs). Our two most recent RAPs have received ‘Elevate’ status - the highest level of leadership endorsement by Reconciliation Australia. Herbert Smith Freehills is the only law firm to receive ELEVATE Reconciliation Action Plan status twice, and one of only 18 organisations in Australia with Elevate RAP status.

Our second ELEVATE RAP, launched in September 2021, included a commitment to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander views and voices expressed with clarity, consistency and urgency in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Some of our supporting initiatives include our engagement in the CareerTrackers program and our work with the Jawun programme.

Participating in ​community work and charitable giving

We recognise needs and priorities can differ greatly among the communities and regions we operate in. Our community programme balances our global initiatives with the work of our local office-based community committees, who best understand the communities in which they live and work, an example being our Community Engagement Awards in India. And we support a range of charitable and community-based organisations, including our global charity partner Médecins Sans Frontières,

Promoting human rights and tackling modern slavery

As a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), we are committed to respecting internationally recognised human rights and conducting our activities in a manner that respects and supports the protection of human rights.

A key aspect of this work is our approach to reduce modern slavery and human trafficking risks across our operations. Our approach to minimise these risks include the assessment and monitoring of suppliers, modern slavery awareness training of key internal stakeholders, and continuous review. Further details on our approach can be found in our annual Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement

Separate to these efforts, we also offer our clients business and human rights legal services.